Category Archives: Random Commentary

Preview: random commentary to come

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Third attempt here; WordPress apparently does not approve this post.

I keep opening the Add Post on my browser window, and then freezing up. Not good. I do have stuff to say, but I haven’t gotten any crafting done. I was considering myself ahead of things last weekend, and I had a guest for the weekend. Though the week I’ve had some intermittent vertigo (Monday was all day, other days more come-and-go), which led to me missing art group night. That’s a bummer, since we don’t have group on the last Wednesday of the month, and I’ll be out of town the next Wednesday. I do have a project I plan to finish up and post today, and I need to plot out what’s next.

And also, I got a tattoo yesterday that’s going to complicate my usual routines for a couple of weeks, which I didn’t really think too much ahead about. It’s on the inner part of my right wrist, and I’m not supposed to touch it or submerge it in water, which is making me rethink a lot of movements I never think about. But I’ve been having some ominous twinges in my right shoulder and wondering how I’ll cope if I eventually have to have surgery (something I experience on my left shoulder), so maybe this is just good practice.

But right now I’d like to write about epic disasters, disappointments and the like. Because just about everyone has seen the story about the elderly church lady who “fixed” the fresco in her church that had seen some damage over the years. Most of the accounts I’ve seen so far have few details, and being a story-brained person, I want to know allllllll the answers. I was planning to write this now, but I just ran across a bunch of delightful comments about it via a friend’s Facebook, so I want to get permission to quote them. Have messaged, am waiting.

Maybe I’ll do some crafting now.

Remix culture For the Win

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Search for “Somebody That I Used to Know” on YouTube and you’ll find a squizpillion covers and remixes done by everyone from solitary kids in their bedrooms to a full choir. Instead of sending out Cease and Desist notices or having YouTube take down the vids, the original performer of the song, Gotye, did a brilliant remix that’s visually enjoyable and musically amazingly beautiful.

Somebodies: a Remix by Gotye http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opg4VGvyi3M

This is why I am in favor of loosening the corporate grip on music and film and TV, to add to that cultural conversation that fans participate in when they express their love of a work in making another work. And how cool is it when the original artist then enters the conversation in the same spirit of joy and love?

Those days when your eyeballs hurt

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Somehow my full day of housecleaning evolved into me goofing off all day and getting a sunburn and a migraine and then goofing off some more. Which is unfortunate, since I invited a friend over for tomorrow, and she’s never seen my place.

It started out innocently enough. I had a couple of things to take to the flea market stall I rent, and when I got there I realized that ermagerd! the outdoor flea market is this weekend. And of course I had to make the rounds, where I did score some epic crafting type stuff. Oldish yardsticks with advertising for $2, $3 and $4. Shutters for $5 each. A couple of pairs of jeans for $1 each, which I got mostly to be nice after I picked some stuff out of the same people’s free bin. (Including some awesome, though completely broken down, cowboy boots, which I plan to alter like mad.) Oh, and a wheelie bin that’s probably meant for gardening but will be good for schlepping things down to the basement via the hill outside and not the stairs. Also chatted with some people and enjoyed that thoroughly. Though it was a beautiful day and not too hot, I got a little fried, and after I came home and put stuff in the garage, I sat down to catch up with a friend on the phone and cool down, and by the time we’d talked for 1 1/2 hours, I was reeling a bit from not having had lunch. By the time I finished eating, a migraine had set in already, and so I napped a while, and then have mostly lounged and eaten ice cream.

I am partway through a craft that’s a bit of a quick one, and maybe it’ll be postable tomorrow at some point when I’m not madly grabbing up things and hiding them somewhere, or hanging out with my friend.

Craft dinner

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I have no idea what that subject line relates to. Crafts. I have none.

That’s about 50% busy-ness, 50% sloth. After a mid-day thunderstorm yesterday, today was an absolute gem of a day, about 75 degrees and sunny with some fluffy clouds. I had a friend in town all weekend, so today we went out and wandered around the indoor flea market. (And I continued my run of selling stuff even when I didn’t think I had, and more than making the rent on my space.) I found some craft and home DIY items there, and then we went to an outlet store and I got an oversized shirt to try a craft project on, 2 books that will provide excellent fodder for some fiction, and a car organizer thingie. We ate a late lunch and then we parted so she could head home. Came back kinda knackered, so I haven’t done much but read and have a phone convo with my brother.

I know exactly what it is I want to do, I just haven’t given myself the push to do it. Hope to have something done by tomorrow if I can light a fire.

Work week is going to feel long. My coworker is on vacation all week. Making something will really improve things, so I need to get my head in the right place.

(Jeez, this wasn’t even entertaining….)

Aside

Twice in a couple of weeks I’ve had dreams about bags — once it was a weekender bag, and once it was about shopping for a bag for my daily schlep. Now, I’m not a gal who lives for the latest handbag, and I wouldn’t dream of paying thousands — hell, not even hundreds — for a designer bag. The idea just boggles my mind. I just buy one that perfectly or somewhat adequately fills my stringent requirements (hard to pickpocket, for one), and generally use it until it wears out. So what’s with the I Dream of Bags all of a sudden? Don’t know. Is there even a category in the interpreting dreams books?

Anyway, I’m taking this as a sign that I should do something bag related for a craft soon. Make one (I have a craft book on that!) or tart one up that I already have… We’ll see what calls my name.

ETA: WordPress bloggers may know the little writing quote treats you get when you finish a post. When I finished this one, it popped up with “Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.” — Marsha Norman. Universe affirming me, or just kinda creepy?

Mama’s got a brand new bag

Fandom acts

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So. Fannishness and fan culture. There’s liking a show or book or movie or whatever; people who do that might even consider themselves a fan of that whatever. But fandom is when people seek one another out to talk about that thing, squee over it (sometimes complain about it), create things (stories, vids, drawings, cartoons, podfics or podcasts), consume those fan-made things, write meta about themes and issues in their favorite source text, do good works within or outside the fandom community, get together to see actors in person at conventions, or get together to see each other at cons that have no celebrity component. Some even find themselves collected to seek advance degrees in media studies or popular culture, hyphenating themselves as Aca-Fans. I have been a solitary fan and a part of fandom, and I much prefer the community of fans. One of my closest friends got me into fandom as a way of life, but fandom as a way of life has also gotten me some of my closest friends. It’s so Escher!

One of my ways of interacting with my fandoms has been writing fanfiction. I’m absolutely no good at writing meta posts that explore every angle of a character or plotline, but I can write a story that shows those angles and goes even further than the source does. It’s just how I’m built. I started writing fanfic as an adult as a break from a very frustrating piece of literary fiction I was writing, and then I just didn’t quit. Because of the nature of fandom, I quickly learned that the things I wanted from a literary publication — people talking about my writing, people talking to me about my writing (I worked in publishing for 10 years, so I didn’t bother wishing for money or huge bestsellerdom because I knew too much about how things work) — those things are readily available to fic writers who are good writers. (And, actually, to some who are terrible writers.)

Despite the widespread belief that fanfiction is written by people who can’t actually write or by 14-year-old girls, there’s plenty out there to blow your mind, if you know where to look. We’re not all “practicing” or venting our frustrations with our sad, miserable lives. Henry Jenkins and other aca-fans point out that it’s a way of taking stories back out of the hands of multinational corporations, of engaging in dialogue or even criticism of the source texts we love. (And yes, there are plenty of times we fall in love with problematic texts. As Woody Allen said about being a dick and taking up with his lover’s daughter, “The heart wants what it wants.”) We explore, we “what if,” we fix. Some of us write steamy alternate universe fics where vampires and werewolves are dental hygienists or Formula One race car drivers, and some may even file the serial numbers off, as we say, and have NY Times bestselling trilogies.

A just about perfect introduction to fanfiction is last summer’s Time article by Lev Grossman, who really just got what it’s about. You can find that here, if you’re interested:
http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2081784,00.html

One of the things that’s great about fannish life is the gift culture that surrounds the writing and artwork fans create. It’s not just the legal ramifications of trying to sell stories about characters who are licensed and copyrighted up the yin yang. It’s that we write for the sheer joy of exploring the worlds and characters we love, and we’re delighted to share what we’ve made when we’re finished. Often people who read a story will respond with some praise and a “thank you for sharing this.” I wouldn’t consider otherwise (mostly), but it’s nice to hear. Sometimes you get offerings in return: an icon, a bit of art, a desktop image, a recorded podfic of your story. There are fic exchanges that are directly gifts, written to order, with random recipients hand-chosen or chosen by algorithm. Yuletide is one of the biggest, in which participants request stories in an obscure or tiny fandom, and write in another obscure fandom for their recipient. It’s kind of terrifying to sign up for these events, but kind of awesome too. (And the organizing of such events is also a big labor of love, done by fans for fans.)

I was telling all this to a friend who visited a few months ago, and she’d just come from an academic conference. She loved the “gift culture” phrase a lot — and said that at the conference, it was expressed as “gift economy.” She said the difference in words was hugely important. Nobody’s counting up, it’s more pay it forward than pay it back. I like that too.

One thing that has struck me as I’ve gone through Pinterest marking potential projects and reading tutorials from here and there. The crafting community seems to have a feel for the gift culture too. Tutorials have a feel of “I made this thing; let me show you how,” or “I figured out this neat trick to make this other thing easier.” Or sometimes it’s “I am not insane and am not going to pay $3200 for a handbag. Let me show you how to make something close.” I have to confess, I’m kind of okay with that. I don’t care about labels. I find it hard to believe there’s a handbag anywhere that’s worth that kind of loot. I think sharing those ideas and appreciating one another’s work is a cool thing about Pintersts and the blogs I’ve traveled because of a lead I got on a pinboard.

There is one thing that troubles me. That’s the pins/tutorials that show how to knock off a piece that’s something an entrepreneur came up with, who’s not charging batshit insane prices for it. Not everything out there is produced by a faceless corporation, and I think it’s important to be respectful of someone who has put their own creativity out there and taken financial risks to do so. I’ve only seen one example when I know this to be true, and it’s not a site selling the same design already made up, just a tutorial. But the tutorial that’s traveling around Pinterest uses the same name that the entrepreneur came up with to refer to the design. It does also link back to her shop, so it’s not claiming credit, and if you prefer to buy one from the originator, it’s easy to do. So I’m not condemning here, I’m just trying to work out how I feel, where I stand. I’m a fan of the remix, the hack, but that’s where I hit my own personal boundary.